KinoKultura: Issue 35 (2012)

A Dynamic Kazakhstan: Eurasia 2011

By Eugénie Zvonkine (Paris 8)

leadThe VII “Eurasia” International Film Festival was held in Almaty from 19-24 September 2011. Films were presented in seven different sections, and the only four days available for screenings made it a very intense event for the attendees. The international competition included films from all over the world (Iceland, France, Philippines, Russia, etc.) and five films from the region. Zul’fikar Musakov’s Lead (Svinets) obtained a prize and has since also been awarded at the Uzbek Film Festival. Kazakhstan was well represented in the programme with three films, one of which, Sunny Days (Solnechnye dni) by Nariman Turebaev, had already been screened at the Locarno Film Festival and received an award there. One of the strong moments of the competition was the Kazakh-Japanese co-produced and co-directed film, The First Rains of Spring (Pered grozoi) by Erlan Nurmukhambetov and Sano Shinju. The calm, flowing narration of the film enhanced its metaphoric approach. The film received the Grand Prix of the Jury. The three Kazakh films participating in the international competition reveal the success of the relatively new cinema courses taught at the local Zhurgenov Academy of Arts, where all three directors were more or less recent students. Another film, Student by Darejan Omirbaev—his screen adaptation of Crime and Punishment by Fedor Dostoevsky—was conspicuous in his absence, still in post-production in September. We hope to discover it soon in one of the A-class film festivals in Europe.

stormThe international competition was enriched by a program entitled “Kazakh Cinematography in its Dynamic Development.” It was good to see that the problem of attendance, so tangible a few years ago at the festival, had disappeared completely: all screenings were full and enthusiastic spectators would be standing or sitting on the floor throughout the entire film. This section brought together popular films such as Super-Bakha by Tolegen Baitukenov and Timur Kasymzhanov, or The Liquidator (Likvidator) by Akan Sataev, aimed mostly at a Kazakh audience, with more personal projects still aimed at a family audience, such as Mother’s Paradise (Rai dlia mamy) by Aktan Arym Kubat or Anshi Bala by Erlan Nurmukhambetov.

sunny daysDuring the festival, a spotlight on New Kazakh Cinema, organized by the Russian producer Anna Katchko, ran in parallel to the festival screenings. This event attracted producers and film specialists from Europe and all over the world, many of them with real experience of working in the region. Eight young filmmakers were invited to pitch their feature projects to a Western audience and answer their questions, first in public and then in personal discussions. Then the guests selected several winners. The obvious and unanimous first place was awarded to the bright young filmmaker Emir Baigazin, already known for his shorts Steppe and Fat Shedder. His project Harmony Lessons struck everyone with its sombre visual universe, already outlined with a chiselled precision. The prize in this case is very important, since Ermek Amanshaev, Kazakhfilm’s CEO, promised that the winner would be guaranteed to get his project into immediate production, which makes us impatient to see what next year’s Eurasia Film Festival would screen.

Eugénie Zvonkine
Paris 8


Awards

Grand Prix: Rains of Spring (Pered grozoi, Kazakhstan-Japan), Sano Shinju and Erlan Nurmukhambetov
Best Direction: Nariman Turebaevfor Sunny Days (Solnechnye dni, Kazakhstan)
Best Actor: Theodor Juliusson in Volcano (Eldfjall, Iceland) by Runar Runarsson
Best Actress: Ol'ga Simonova in The Bedouin (Russia), dir. Igor' Voloshin

FIPRESCI: Busong (Philippines) dir. Oraus Solito
NETPAC: Lead (Svinets, Uzbekistan) by Zul'fikar Musakov 

Eugénie Zvonkine© 2012

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Updated: 10 Jan 12